ITHACA, N.Y. -- The nonprofit STRIVE New York has partnered with eCornell and local city organizations to launch Serve UP Harlem, an initiative to prepare 18- to 24-year-olds for career paths in food service and hospitality. The free two-week program combines Cornell University's Service Excellence On-Demand online training with job readiness training, basic financial literacy, and employer connections and case management through the East Harlem Talent Network (EHTN), STRIVE's place-based hiring initiative. Serve UP Harlem began in January 2017 and was developed with support from the Youth Opportunity Fund, led by the Citi Foundation and America's Promise Alliance.
"Our success is based on the relationships we build and partners we can bring to the table in support of our young people and local economy. Working with Cornell University's resources and hospitality expertise allowed us to provide a level of training to our graduates they wouldn't have access to otherwise," said Phil Weinberg, STRIVE's chief executive officer.
Since January, many of Serve UP Harlem's 60 graduates have entered hospitality internships or begun the job application process with support from program staff. That support is enhanced by an integrated network of STRIVE partners: the EHTN, Operation HOPE, Cornell University, Hospitality Made Great, and local restaurateurs in Harlem and Upper Manhattan. Students also build their personal networks through small classes, working together to complete the online Service Excellence training and then behind the scenes inside restaurants, wine stores, and hotels.
For graduates, the combination of Cornell's Service Excellence training and STRIVE's services through Serve UP Harlem provides the connections—and confidence—they need to build a positive vision for their future in the workforce. They leave the program with an in-demand skill set that differentiates them from other applicants, helping to close the youth unemployment gap and pave their way toward success.
"If I could complete this training, then I know I can do other education, training, or skills programs too and be successful," said Daquan, who graduated the training in February.
The success of Serve UP Harlem's six graduated cohorts has spurred STRIVE to pursue ongoing funding for the program, enabling them to help more young adults in New York City pursue successful career paths in foodservice and hospitality.
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